Sunday, March 26, 2006

Like a kid in a candy store

Way too much to choose from....

I’ve been preparing for a new workshop at LSC about Web 2.0 tools. One of the problems I’m having is choosing only 6-8 of them to demonstrate. I basically promised six useful tools in 60 minutes. However, I want to look at 10-12 tools instead of just 6.

I guess what I’ll try to do is show them step-by-step how to use six of the tools, while mixing in just a 1 minute taste of each of another 6 or so tools. Let’s see how these numbers work out:

  • There are several audio tools that I would like to show, but I’ll probably have to settle for one or two. (1.5)
  • There are five or six blog “add-ons” that I am interested in, will probably have to go with only one. (1)
  • I’m familiar with about 8 of the social bookmarking tools, but will probably have to choose two. (2)
  • Way too many of the collaboration tools (at least 10) have potential educational uses. I’m still getting to know about most of these so I’ll probably just include one. (1)
  • The communications tools are so important for educators and students. I’ll probably need to include at least two of them, but should do a whole workshop on just those. (2)
  • Of the 40 or so community-building sites, I’ll probably have to look at one and mention another. (1.5)
  • At least one hosting site for data and applications needs to be included. (1)
  • I’d be tempted to do more, but I probably need to include at least three of the digital images (mainly photos) sites. (3)
  • The mapping tools are very powerful (and fun); I have to include at least one of those. (1)
  • RSS feeds: this is so important but I’ll probably only include one of these and then do a whole workshop on educational uses of feeds in the near future. (1)
  • Video sharing: at least one good one must be included. (1)
  • Multimedia, polling, portals, memos, calendaring, search, software, stats, etc. etc. etc. (1)
So, how’d that turn out? Not so great. I count seventeen things that need to be included, yet I don’t think that I’ll even have time for twelve. I guess I’ll just pick some that are representative of the others and go with that.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Online Student Advisory - Take 3

This post has been moved to my e-learning blog at

Online Student Advisory - Take 2

This post has been moved to my e-learning blog at

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Online Students Advisory Committee

This post has been moved to my e-learning blog at

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Results are In!!

I have only had about 45 minutes today to skim the results from our third annual administration of the Noel-Levitz PSOL (Priorities Survey for Online Learners). The PSOL is a nationally-normed importance/satisfaction survey for students taking online courses. A few things jump out at me right away:

  • LSC Online students were more satisfied than the national average on 16 of the 26 items.

  • Eight of the 26 items had statistically significant differences between LSC students and the national average; and 6 of those eight differences were positive for LSC and only two negative (below the nat’l numbers).

  • Because 16 MnSCU schools administered the survey all at the same time, we now have MnOnline aggregated data for the first time ever. On each of the 26 standard satisfaction statements, LSC students were more satisfied than the MnOnline total grouping.

  • Of the 26 items where LSC students were more satisfied, 19 of the 26 differences were statistically significant (an astonishing number, IMHO). Five were significant at the .05 level, eight were significant at the .01 level, and six were significant at the .001 level.

  • Not only were the satisfaction numbers higher, but the standard deviation numbers were equal or lower (often much lower) on all items except one. That means that not only were our students more satisfied, but there was less variation in their answers as well.

  • There appears to be some interesting data to dissect regarding previous online enrollments. Those students who had previously completed 4 or more online courses were overall much more satisfied than those who had previously completed fewer courses. However, there were a few categories where the more experienced students were clearly less satisfied, particularly the two questions related to program advisors.

  • I also look forward to examining the data more rigorously related to age breakdowns. Students 25 and older are WAY more satisfied than students 24 and younger. The older grouping reports higher satisfaction on 35 out of 36 statements, with 12 of those being statistically significant differences.
Overall, for the third year in a row the results are very positive. I will be spending some time over the next month looking for holes in the data where we might be able to improve our service to students.

Tags: PSOL LSC Online MnOnline eLearning Student Satisfaction

Half way through the workshop ... polling time

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blogs and Wikis Workshops

I am pleased that over 50 employees have signed up for one of the workshops over the next two days. It should be fun, at least it will be if I do my job properly. These workshops are going to start at the very bottom and not jump up to the top any too quickly. I think that the survey results below indicate what a reasonable strategy that is. I'm looking forward to it!
NOTE: there are two images below, click to enlarge them.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Make your own map

Jane asked about making a map of where students in her online class come from. You no longer need to learn GIS or other high-end software, now you can make your own maps very easily using one of several different web apps. I created a free account at and had this map made in about five minutes: (Click on the "Launch" button to expand into a new window, or go to the map here)

Note: for some reason the Bitty Browser below works correctly sometimes (in I.E. it seems to) and sometimes not (a couple of times it did work but not always using Firefox). If you see the LSC home page instead of a map, then use the link above to the map.

I haven't yet looked into a way to bulk upload a bunch of addresses to do this, but it is easy if you only need to be reasonably accurate (correct city but not necessarily the correct street or corner) and don't have too many waypoints (the little balloons) to set.

Kind of fun actually. Zoom in or out for more or less detail. Later

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sticky notes for the web

I love the free web sticky notes available at the site. I made a screenshot so that you can see what they look like.

Even though I can put them on any page I want, you wouldn't be able to see them unless you could view my monitor or look at this screenshot.

Rather than just bookmarking a page, now you can sticky note the page with a message as to why you bookmarked it in the first place.

The only thing I don't like is that I usually place my non-virtual stickies at a bit of an angle and these have to be perfectly straight.

Monday, March 06, 2006

FOSS for non-programmers

Australian blogger Bill Kerr produces a CD with free and open source software (FOSS) for his students to borrow if they are so inclined. Although you can find long lists of FOSS in various places, I like this list for its brevity and quality. I especially want to find the time to check out the following:

  • Celestia simulation of the universe
  • GameMaker
  • Wesnoth strategy game
  • Blender and Pov-ray 3D graphics
  • cmap concept mapping
It also includes some I am already familiar with:
  • Audacity sound recording and editing
  • Juice podcast maker
  • Firefox browser
  • Google desktop
  • Picasa image management
  • Open Office software suite
Prediction: if MnSCU ever moves away from Desire2Learn, it will be to an open source instructional management system. I'm not saying that it will happen, but in 3-5 years the open source applications that are currently being developed will be viable alternatives for our statewide implementation.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A bit-o-fun with the bitty browser

Here is an example of a very cool new app called Bitty Browser. Basically it is similar to a picture-in-picture for webpages. You can put anything you want into the separate bitty browser window. I used the college website page about the College Cup as an example.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Learning? Yes...but can you do it with style?

I've been reading alot lately about learning theory (or rather theories, since there are so many of them). I wanted to share two things that I have come across recently.

In her blog Creating Passionate Users, Kathy Sierra provides an excellent entry titled Crash Course in Learning Theory. Not the same old stale bread.

Education blogger Jay Cross has an entertaining post titled Learning Styles, ha, ha, ha at his Internet Time Blog. You can also download the 186-page report that he is referring to where the report authors basically poke fun at the academic research that has been done in regard to learning styles. I love that kind of stuff.

Imagine my delight..

at finding that there are 25 registered sex offenders living within a mile of my house. If you haven't already checked out these maps, you might want to take a look for yourself. You can find these maps in different places, but I used the one at Remax Twin Ports Realty.

The other question I have is how many unregistered offenders there are in the neighborhood. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Neighborhood Watch."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another fun website might have some serious uses related to genealogy, but I just think it's fun. Although I admit that it is not too much fun to find that the celebrity that they think most matches your look is Neil Sedaka. They say that we are a 66% match. A little lower percentage for Zamfir (the pan flute guy) and also Dan Quayle (the potato"e" guy), and the last choice was a very attractive woman.